With the opening of low-Earth orbit duties to the private sector, Trump-era funding cuts, and the U.S. government turning away from research into climate change, NASA is downsizing considerably.
Most laid-off engineers in the Houston area went to work for chemical, oil and energy companies (where else could they used their highly-specialized skill sets?). Also, Mike Moore left NASA to work for Uber. The pay must be better.NASA is pivoting like a tech startup. Check out their 3 newest goals.Click To Tweet
In recent years, NASA has been distancing itself gradually from low-Earth orbit activities and the ISS, leaving these duties to the private sector which, among other activities, will also take over commercial spaceflights.
NASA wants to free up the resources it has left and reorient its efforts on other projects.
Here are three mega-awesome projects NASA has proposed:
1. Terraforming Mars
After various exploration missions by different nations, Mars is the most sought-after planet regarding talk of human colonization outside of Earth. Situated in the habitable zone of the Sun, the Red Planet still can’t host life. Having lost its atmosphere to solar winds and a lack of a strong magnetic shield, Mars may be long past its “garden world” stage.
NASA is studying the possibility of deploying an artificial magnetic shield that consists of a large dipole to protect Mars from solar winds and allow it to grow back its atmosphere and watery surface.
Citing this research paper, Redditor @darkmighty explains one possible methodology: “Being superconductors, you just have to keep them cool and compensate for thermal losses. Came out to a few MWs iirc, which is on the order of the generating capability of a medium sized power plant.
The big problem to build one on Mars would be funding the ring itself. A massive amount of material would need to be collected and processed in-situ.”
2. Hunt for Water in Space
NASA has prioritized the search for life in the universe. However, the agency doesn’t expect to meet with green aliens or complex forms of life. The word “life” here refers to living organisms, such as bacteria, molecules, and other single-celled beings. Aside from water, there’s no other known substance that could host these fragile forms of life.
NASA scientists decided to look for signs of life in water on the moons of Jupiter like Europa and other icy moons via probe missions. Details of future plans were presented during Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop held at the NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.
3. Uncovering the Secrets of Matter and Gravity:
NASA, aboard SpaceX CRS-12, will send a special instrument that will create the coolest spot in the universe. Called CAL (Cold Atom Laboratory), this instrument is in the final stages of assembly at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena where it was developed. CAL would help scientists study the behavior of matter and gravity in such conditions, as well as give insights into dark energy.
Our prediction is that NASA’s future role will be a surveyor for general criteria in our Solar System and even beyond. Private companies and research initiatives will follow up for more specific study and development.
NASA, like all surviving lifeforms, must adapt.